[right]Thanks to tosyxChor for his original article’s Daily Practice section.
Thanks to Scipio Xaos for proofreading.[/right]
[center]Fitting Lucidity Into Life
A Multi-Technique Routine[/center]
There is no single “best” technique for lucid dreaming, sadly. If there was, we wouldn’t need so many techniques — we’d all use the best one! That said, people are often told to try a technique for a reasonable length of time to find its effectiveness before trying a second technique. There’s a certain amount of truth to this; new lucid dreamers need to undo a lifetime of ignoring dreams, and this change in mindset doesn’t occur overnight. Other people devote themselves to one technique in the belief that it is somehow a “best” technique: “if I can WILD, why should I bother with RCing?” Still other people simply feel that they don’t have time for more than one technique. However, certain techniques can be used together that aid each other instead of inhibiting each other, provided that each one is used in a way that makes the user excited about lucidity and sets proper subconscious expectations. This article will address a sample combination of techniques (but not the only combination of techniques!) that can be used with each other, as well as showing how such a combination does not need to interfere greatly with daily life.
This article will begin by talking about DILD techniques. The expectation is that if you’re reading this article, you’ve already been exposed to the techniques mentioned herein, therefore an in-depth explanation of the techniques will not be provided. I encourage those that prefer or insist on WILD techniques to read through the DILD sections so as not to throw away potential DILDs. Ways to accommodate WILD techniques will be discussed afterwards. Take the time to answer questions in red, either for yourself to establish the proper mindset or as a reply to this article so that others may comment.
Physical Technique 1: Writing in a Dream Journal
RCILD is one of the most common techniques taught to beginners. It gets oneironauts to first focus on their dreams via a journal, then to think about how we accept illogical things as normal in dreams, and then trains them to be discerning in reality to carry this habit over to dreams.
The most common reasons people give for not filling out their dream journals are the time needed and the inconvenience of filling one out in the middle of the night or before getting out of bed. Practitioners rarely doubt that the dream journal benefits lucidity in important ways, such as increasing their dream recall and familiarizing them with common dream signs, but the effort required seems to be too great, especially when waking up groggily in the morning or when jarred awake by an alarm that signifies needing to hurry to work or school. This can be circumvented by dividing the work into two parts. When first waking up, write only the most significant parts of the dream, spending only a few minutes in bed recalling things before committing a list of words or a few sentences to paper. For examples of this, examine StaySharp’s Tag-Book Method (DreamViews.com) or Jamie Alexander’s Three Dream Seeds (lucidability.com). At some point in the day, return to your journal and review your notes, trying to piece together how the dream went and identifying recurring dream signs. This forced focus on dreams at two different points in the day helps program your subconscious to care about and recognize dreams. In particular, returning to read your journal shortly before going to sleep will cement the idea of recognizing dreams in your subconscious right before you begin to dream.
If a paper journal still seems like effort, consider a tape recorder or a recording app on your cell phone so that you do not even have to move your hand. This has the benefit of giving a stream-of-consciousness approach to your dream journal that may make dreams easier to remember at a later time, but has the disadvantage of making it hard to record in chronological order unless you remember the dream exactly that way.
1) Do you currently keep a journal? If so, how well does it work for you? If not, how will you start one given what you’ve read (written or audio, full dreams or notes, paper or electronic, etc.)?
Physical Technique 2: Performing Reality Checks
The RC is the most commonly taught way of acting on dream signs for the sake of lucidity. As with journals, they often fall by the wayside once practitioners realize that it takes a genuine effort to perform them. They are also sometimes seen as “invasive”: when in conversation, how does one discreetly pinch his/her nose to test reality without appearing to be a complete nutjob? The trick here is to have multiple RCs on hand that work in different ways. Try having three RCs: a highly-effective one such as the nose pinch, a discreet one such as checking text twice, and a logic-based one such as trying to recall how you got to where you are and what you expect to do next. When in a setting in which you do not care to show off your RCing to the world, use a discreet or logical RC. Logical RCs also raise awareness more than other types when done habitually, as they always require actual thought that tends to wane over time when performing physical RCs. Use the effective RC whenever possible, but have the others on hand for when you cannot.
If the issue is remembering to do RCs, using reminders in the situations that demand your attention the most can be effective. The reminders can be discreet as well; for example, forum user Koharo suggests using sticky notes as reminders. The notes do not need anything written on them, so long as you mentally associate seeing them with a thought such as “I tend to be unaware in this situation; I should RC” until the idea is so ingrained that the reminder can be removed. RCs can be made into a habit such that you perform at least one within a certain length of time, or they can be used upon encountering dream signs and after waking (to catch false awakenings). For the most effective RCs, you can of course do both! Of course, in order to recognize your dream signs, you must be keeping your dream journal as well — this is a rather classic combination of techniques that has been proven effective.
2) What effective but indiscreet RC, discreet RC, and logic-based RC will you commit to using? Can you think of any situation in which you tend to forget about lucidity and may need to set up a reminder until this bad habit is removed?
Physical Technique 3: Wake-Back-to-Bed
When it comes to techniques that are perceived as “too much effort”, WBTB often tops the list. The idea of waking up in the middle of the night, moving around, then returning to bed certainly seems inconvenient and may be downright impossible if you share your bed. However, the “back-to-bed” part of WBTB is the least necessary part of the technique: provided that you wake up, reorient your thoughts towards lucidity, and return to sleep, there is no need to leave the bed so that you can go back to it. Upon waking, RC to be sure that you are not having a false awakening, then spend some time writing in your journal — have a small light nearby that allows you to write but does not light the entire room and cause your eyes to painfully adjust to the light. As stated before, you can choose to take only as many notes as you feel you need to without losing too much sleep or becoming too awake. This is also the perfect time to employ the techniques that will be discussed later in the article. Your WBTB routine should not be disrupting your sleep by more than 10 minutes if you do not choose for it to take longer.
WBTB has often been described as a technique strengthener instead of a technique itself. While waking up and becoming more conscious does lead to a higher rate of lucidity, WBTB’s real strength comes from combining it with other techniques so that thoughts of lucidity remain on the brain as you return to sleep. It also serves as a way to practice RCing for false awakenings if you make a habit of RCing immediately upon starting WBTB, and allows for suggestive techniques to be applied closer to the long REM periods most conducive to lucidity.
Mental Technique 1: Autosuggestion and MILD
While the physical techniques mentioned so far are often referenced and used together when oneironauts can dredge up the willpower to do so, MILD is a famous technique that often gets tossed aside. Commonly paired with WBTB, MILD is the process of repeating a mantra — a short, meaningful phrase — until it sinks into the subconscious, then falling asleep normally. Autosuggestion is a related technique that involves repeating an affirmation throughout the day so that it is absorbed by the subconscious. These principles are similar to those found in hypnosis.
A common complaint with suggestion-based techniques and hypnosis is that not all people are hypnotizable or suggestible. While it is true that everybody has a different degree of suggestibility, that degree is never zero, and having a desire to accept a suggestion increases that degree greatly. Given this, if you have headphones or earphones and ten minutes of quiet time in an environment that does not require your immediate attention, please click here (YouTube) to learn just how readily the human mind accepts suggestions if it does not actively resist.
3) Were you surprised at how your body reacted to the audio from the previous link? Which visualization affected you the most?
During the day, pair an affirmation with your effective reality check. For example, you may jump into the sky and have your inner voice say “I float in the air and know that I’m dreaming”. Truly want to float, realizing how wonderful it would be in a lucid dream — an affirmation that excites you will sink in much more quickly than one that bores you. At night, perform MILD both before bed and after any awakening such as your WBTB. Choose a mantra that is easy to mentally recite even while tired and that has meaning to you. For a more hypnotic effect, pair it with a simple rhythm, such as timing the first half of your mantra to inhaling and the rest to exhaling.
Even if you found the effect of the visualizations to be slight, any effect at all is clearly better than no effect. Adding affirmations and MILD to your routine will help with the success of other techniques to some non-zero degree.
Mental Technique 2: Goal Setting and Visualization
One of the most valuable tools I have used for motivating me to become lucid in sleeping dreams involves setting goals. Sometimes, I become lucid and decide not to change the direction of my dream, in order to carry out a goal. In this case, I go with the flow of the dream. However, when I do have an interesting goal, I get motivated to become and remain lucid. In my lucid dreaming classes, I suggest that my students start with a simple goal to accomplish in their lucid dream. I ask them to decide the first steps that they can accomplish from wherever they might find themselves, and I tell them to decide this ahead of time, while awake. I find that a goal of “becoming lucid” does not work as well as a goal of doing something fun in the limitless world of dreams. This applies to waking life as well.
People who have had hundreds of lucid dreams often find very slight differences between waking life and reality, and use them as ever-present dream signs. However, even these people acknowledge that lucid dreams are not required to seem different from waking life. A person with a goal along the lines of “I want to be lucid” is targeting an empty state that he/she many not be very familiar with. Why should this excite the subconscious? Why should it allow you to experience this empty state?
Set your focus beyond the lucidity itself; instead, use lucidity as a stepping stone for an activity that excites you. Maybe you want to fly, to shapeshift, to meet a certain person, to visit a certain place… find what motivates you and set your sights on that, knowing that lucidity is the first step towards that achievement. Phrase your affirmations around it — for example, the affirmation of floating from before uses a gravity-based RC and can also be the start of a lucid dream about willpower-based flight.
If you clicked the link in the Autosuggestion section, you were guided through some simple visualizations, and your body responded to them. The same thing applies to your lucid goals; when you perform your effective RC and affirm what you want, visualize it happening. Imagine the RC you are currently doing showing that you are indeed dreaming, and then imagine the first steps of accomplishing the goal, deciding if you will use active or passive dream control at this time so that you have a plan in your dream. It may only take 15 to 30 seconds from the start of the RC to the end of the visualization, so this need not consume your entire day; it can be performed in spurts. Most importantly of all, feel good about doing it — if a smile is forming on your face as you picture it, you’re doing it perfectly. You can also check out this forum topic on learning to visualize if you feel your ability is lacking.
Lastly, if you can find something in waking life that helps you visualize your goal, take advantage of it. If a dream ability you want to have, environment you want to visit or person you want to meet reminds you of something in a book, movie, video game, television show, etc., then expose yourself to that media in your spare time. If you can find a work or art or draw something that reminds you of your goal, do so. Don’t feel compelled to make your subconscious do all of the work when real-world elements can help you along.
Being excited about a concrete goal will make your subconscious want to help your other techniques succeed, especially when compared to having a goal of entering a state that most new lucid dreamers can barely define.
4) Describe your visualization from start to finish, including your RC, the realization that you are dreaming, your method of dream control for your goal, and starting the goal. Do any other posts in this topic have similar goals or methods? Do you see any posts that provide a more appealing way to get what you want from the dream? Is there anything you can do in real life that relates to your goal?
Putting DILD Techniques Together
To summarize, perform your RCs during the day, having discreet RCs for the situations in which you cannot break social norms. Use your less discreet but more effective RCs whenever possible, and with each of these RCs, affirm and visualize the RC succeeding and your goal beginning; this process can be done in 15 to 30 seconds. Return to your dream journal at some point during the day to review and recall your previous dreams, looking for dream signs. At night, fall asleep performing MILD. Perform a WBTB without the BTB if it is difficult, and perform it even if only for a brief enough time to write short notes in your dream journal. Return to sleep via MILD. All of these techniques combines to create one full-day lucid dreaming experience that does not interfere with daily life.
Modifying Your Routine for WILD
Like DILD, WILD not only refers to a specific technique but also to a class of techniques. Any technique that allows conscious entry into a lucid dream is a WILD technique. This class of techniques requires you to alter things somewhat, but still allows you to perform many of the aforementioned techniques.
There is no reason to change the day routine. Having the proper mindset can lead to DILDs, which are still desirable despite some of the fascination around WILD. However, WILD techniques are designed to be done during an awakening, so the night routine does change. A traditional WILD needs only to replace the MILD performed during WBTB with WILD. You can still write in your dream journal, but your focus will be on keeping awareness as you transfer from being awake to asleep. Your MILD mantra may be a possible focus point for your awareness, but is more likely to distract you and cause you to lose consciousness.
The visualization done for VILD can be similar to the one you use throughout the day, so it should not require much thinking during WBTB if you are properly practicing your daily routine. As with WILD, it will replace the MILD step of the WBTB.
FILD and DEILD are typically done immediately after waking, often without opening one’s eyes; because of this, the WBTB is cut down to almost no time at all, and writing in you dream journal and MILDing during WBTB are removed. Note that you’ll want to have strong dream recall before getting involved in these methods due to the inability to write in your journal at that time.
Conclusion and Another Resource
If you can stick to this multi-technique routine or a similar one instead of focusing entirely on one technique, your chances for lucidity will increase. These techniques serve to complement each other and to create a mindset of excitement towards lucidity. Consider this routine a bare minimum for effectively inducing lucidity without forfeiting your daily life; I highly suggest reading Dream Control Training Course by tosxyChor both for tips on what to do once lucid and for other suggested techniques that can be added to your routine. Remember, this article’s suggested routine is not the only routine, but instead one that shows how each technique complements the others.
5) The most important question of all… can you commit yourself to this? Can you place small, 15-second interruptions in your day to achieve lucidity, and five minutes before, during, and after sleep for working towards your goal?